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Cuban Missile Crisis

Cuban MissileCrisis

Certainincidents that happen in life require rational behavior to applyfailure to which the outcome will have negative consequences. Many ofthe world’s heaviest losses were experienced because an individual,a group or a country behaved irrationally without taking into accountthe disaster associated with such behavior. In October 1962, thepossibility of an atomic crisis was roaming were it not for theconcerned parties that behaved rationally. wasalmost resulting in a nuclear war if both President John F Kennedyand his Russian counterpart Nikita S. Khrushchev did not behaverationally. This article outlines the theory of rationality andirrationality, Cuban missile crisis and the different outcomesaccording to rationality and irrationality thinking.

Theoryof Rationality and Irrationality

Rationality refers to the state of reasoning based on facts and/orreason. In normative terms, rationality means that a person’sbelief should conform to reasons to believe. If an individual takesaction and then give reasons of taking the action, then such a personis said to be rational. The meaning of the term rational is, however,different in various disciplines such as sociology, psychology,economics and evolutionary biology. A rational decision should notonly be reasonable but should also be the optimal in solving a givenproblem or achieving a set goal. For optimality of a rationalbehavior to be determined, the problem should be formulated andassumptions stated. The background model assumptions determinewhether an optimal decision is rational or not. Certain decisions arerational in a given context and irrational in a different context.Philosophers believe that a good rational decision should beindependent of personal feelings, emotions or instincts. If adecision agreed upon is influenced by subjective bias, then such adecision is irrational because a rational decision ought to beobjective and logical (Ritzer 15).

Irrationality is the opposite of rationality that is, talking oracting without reasoning or considering the available facts.Irrational decisions refer to decisions that are to a large extentinfluenced by personal feelings and emotions and thus not objective.Irrational behaviors lead to actions that affect the societynegatively. Examples of irrational behaviors include cryinghysterically, having unrealistic expectations, becoming angry atsituations that are yet to occur, extravagance, disorganization amongothers. Different disciplines such as sociology, economics,psychology, and game theory are interested in understandingirrational behavior and, as a result many theories of irrationalityhave been developed. Factors that induce the occurrence of irrationalbehavior include stress, intoxication, introduction of a uniquesituation, and peers with irrational thoughts. Psychologists believethat the irrational behavior is not purely negative, there are somesituations that call for irrational behavior because even rationaldecisions do not offer solutions (Oakeshott 71).


TheCuban missile crisis occurred in October 1962 when the two superpowers (United States and Soviet Union) came closest to nuclearconflict during the cold war. In October 1962, the United Statespresident, John F. Kennedy, informed the whole world through themedia that the Soviet Union was building missiles in Cuba just 90miles from Florida shores. The public announcement by the UnitedStates president came after the US intelligence discovered evidenceof Soviet IL-8 bombers in Cuba while undertaking routinesurveillance. Kennedy summoned his closest advisors to discuss thebest strategy to deal with the expected crisis. Although someadvisers opted for an air strike to destroy the missiles in Cuba andothers wanted stern warnings to the Soviet Union and Cuba, theyagreed on a middle course (Anderson 204).

Kennedy authorized the US navy to form a naval quarantine around Cubato ensure that Russian ships do not bring more missiles to theIsland. The use of quarantine enabled the United States to receivesupport from the organization of American States. After ordering thequarantine, the president sent a letter to the Russian premierKhrushchev stating that the US would not allow any offensive weaponto be delivered to Cuba and ordered the dismantling of all themissile bases under construction in Cuba. In response, Khrushchevordered soviet commanders to launch their nuclear weapons if UnitedStates decides to invade. After locking horns in this manner andrealizing the danger that can arise, the two Presidents opted for aseries of direct and indirect communications through letters to solvethe crisis. After seven days of dialogue, on October 28, the Russianpremier agreed to dismantle the missiles in Cuba with an assurancethat the United States will not invade the Island. It is said thatthe United States also agreed to withdraw their missiles from Turkey(Anderson 218).

The did not start in October 1962 but rather itwas a long process that started way back in June 1961 when Kennedyattended a summit with Khrushchev in Vienna. The two leaders intendedto discuss the cold war between the Western and the Eastern part, butthey failed to agree on anything. The failure to settle theirdifferences made Khrushchev view Kennedy as a weak president andbecause United States had more Jupiter missiles compared to theSoviet, the soviet leadership was desperate to change the balance ofpower on their favor. When General Castro came to power as the Cubanpremier, US refused to supply them with oil and also stopped buyingCuban sugar.

United States also organized to throw Castro out of power and invadeCuba. Khrushchev took advantage of the impending danger and offeredto help the Cuban General. Castro was promised protection from the UShostilities and was offered new trading opportunities by the SovietPremier. In return, Castro allowed the Soviet Union to establish amissile base in Cuba that later resulted in the formation of CubanMissile crisis. After many years of silence concerning the issue, in1996 the library of John F. Kennedy released a documentary of thecrisis between 18th and 29th October 1963 in the form of taperecordings. The tapes contain information of all conversations thattook place to resolve the crisis (Anderson 220).

When John F. Kennedy received the information about what the Sovietunion was doing, He had a chance to act either rationally orirrationally. Kennedy’s decision to summon his close advisers todiscuss the way forward was rational because such a discussion mayyield a logical and reasoned solution. Of course, during thediscussion, many irrational ideas based on emotions were proposed butthey did not pass the test. Some of the advisors had proposed use ofan air strike to destroy the missiles in Cuba, but this decision wasnot followed most likely due to its subjectivity. A long discussionallowed the group of the president and his closest advisers toformulate the problem and develop the underlying assumptions for anobjective decision to be made. The outcome reveals that thedecision arrived at through consultation was effective and it he4lpedtackle the problem. The expectation is that when the president satdown with his advisors, they analyzed the outcome of each and everyoption and decided to pick the one that yielded optimal results. Thisis a rational way of solving problems or achieving set goals and inmost cases the result of such a method is positive. In this case, useof rational behavior to solve a crisis yielded positive fruits andthe calamity of atomic war that was likely to face the world wascountered. The Soviet premier also acted rationally by dismantlingthe missiles in Cuba and thus avoiding confrontation with the UnitedStates (Musgrave 9).

On the other hand, if both parties (United States and Soviet Union)decided to act irrationally, the result would have been different. IfJohn F. Kennedy and his advisors opted to strike the missiles inCuba, several deaths would have occurred and there was the biggerdanger of the Soviet Union deciding to revenge and thus leading tohuge losses of life and property. If Soviet leadership opted to actirrationally and engage in a confrontation with the naval quarantine,huge losses would have occurred to both sides regardless of whetherthey won or not.

Conclusion Manyincidents in life call for rational decisions that are moreobjective, practical and logical. Application of irrational methodsin certain delicate issues can lead to huge losses because irrationaldecisions are not based on facts and reasoning, but rather they arebased on subjective thinking. never materializedbecause the parties involved applied rational behavior to solve theissue and this yielded optimal results. In the future, it isadvisable for individuals to apply rational ways in solving problemsor achieving goals because they have proved to be beneficial.

Works Cited

Anderson, Paul A. &quotDecision making by objection and the Cubanmissile crisis.&quot Administrative Science Quarterly 28.2(2003): 201-222. Print.

Musgrave, Alan. Essays on realism and rationalism. AmsterdamAtlanta, GA: Rodopi, 2009. Print.

Oakeshott, Michael. Rationalism in politics and other essays.New York: Methuen, 2007. Print.

Ritzer, George. The McDonaldization of society. Thousand Oaks,Calif: SAGE, 2013. Print.